Real Sociedad 0-1 FC Barcelona: Ronald Araujo wins it for the Catalans as defending champions leave it late for victory

In football match news, FC Barcelona and Real Sociedad battle out an intense fixture at Reale Stadium, with the defending champions going with all three points, courtesy the Uruguayan wall Ronald Araujo who scored a stoppage time winner to help Barca. With this win, Barca climb on third position, following closely on surprise table toppers Girona FC.

A battle of the ages

Real Sociedad and FC Barcelona always poses to be an intense battle between the teams. Last night was not an exception either, as winning at Anoeta has always been uphill for any visiting teams. The hostile environment, coupled with the blazing form of Sociedad players this season in the form of Takefusa Kubo and Mikel Oyarzabal, was indeed one of the toughest challenges for Xavi’s brigade, especially when they are coming on the back of a heartbreaking loss in the hands of arch rivals Real Madrid, courtesy a Jude Bellingham brace.

With three points on sight, both tacticians were fielding their best eleven, with several top stars coming on the field after a long layoff for both sides. The home team of Sociedad went with a 4-4-2 formation, with Oyarzabal and Kubo spearheading the attack, followed by the enterprising quartet of Merino, Brais, Zubimendi and Barrenetxea. Their defensive wall comprised the seasoned Zubeldia, Le Normand, Traore and Aihen, with Remiro under the sticks.

For FC Barcelona, it was a comeback for Lewandowski after sitting outside for last few weeks due to a freak injury. Xavi had gone for a three-throng attack of 3-4-3, with Gavi, Lewa and Joao Felix leading the charge. The midfield comprised the seasoned Gundogan, who was accompanied by the services of another youngster Fermin, as the wings were guarded by Cancelo and Balde. Inigo Martinez had started alongside Joules Kounde, in his comeback match, followed by the night’s hero, Araujo.

A strong start for the home side

The battle of Barca and Real Sociedad always delivers to the expectations, and is worth the hype. Last night, they had contested one of the toughest games this season, with several stern tests waiting for both sides. “La Real” was instrumental in beginning the charge, as they were pressing Barca at their own area, forcing some serious saves from the Barca custodian, the legendary Marc Andre Ter Stegen, as Aihen was seen hitting ferociously at the goal.

The home side was electric once again and was seen playing some classy shots which was forcing Barca defense to be together, preventing them from going for attacks. With several unwavering attacks on the surge, Barca was forced to change its formation to back-four, with Cancelo getting ahead of Araujo.

The possession in the initial minutes were in favor for La Real, as they had created numerous chances in front of the Barca goal. Although the defending champions were getting opportunities, they were often stalled by the Sociedad defense, who had done a brilliant job in silencing their counterparts. Zubimendi had created several chances for La Real, as he created some plethora of chances by toying the ball across the wings, creating a mazy run, before being fouled. On the 44th minute, hearts were on the mouths for the home fans as Felix had danced along the wings only to be saved by Remiro’s strong hands, as the appeal for penalty by Felix went in vain. The half-time whistle was on, as the match was poised for a climactic finish with 0-0 on the score line.

Pedri introduced on the field

Barcelona has been suffering from several injuries during last few weeks, as heavyweights like Pedri, Frenkie and Raphinha were missing in action due to nursing of injuries. But, last night, midfield wizard Pedri was seen on the field, after he was introduced after weeks of sitting on the sidelines, thus providing an impetus to the depleted Barca midfield.

Araujo’s late heroics seal the deal

As the plethora of chances kept on coming for both sides, credit should be given to the defensive walls of both teams, as they were instrumental in thwarting away attacks. But, sometimes, you just need your defenders to become attackers who could win the game for you. Barca fans were not new to the scene of seeing their defenders scoring the winners, as the legendary Pique and Puyol have done it often over past few decades. Last night, it was Araujo’s turn to be etched in the history books as he led the attacking charge in the dying minutes.

Three minutes were added after ninety minutes, with both teams hoping for a breakthrough and drawing the first blood. Although it was Sociedad who had seen the majority of chances, it had to be the wall Ronald Araujo, who was rightfully on the scoresheet owing ton his classy acts across the game. The ever-young Gundogan had chipped the ball over the defense, and it was headed by Araujo for the goal. Initially, being ruled out due to offside, it was later confirmed by VAR that the goal was not offside, and it should stand, thus inflicting a last-minute heartbreak for the home fans, similar to what Barca had experienced last week, a last-ditch agonizing defeat.

With this victory, the defending champions return to winning ways, and are inching closer on the top spot, four points behind surprise leaders Girona FC.

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